Unlocking Mark Burnett's secrets of success.

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Without a doubt, the King of Reality TV is Mark Burnett. From Survivor to The Apprentice to The Contender, Mark Burnett has been the man behind some of the most successful shows in history. But how did he do it? How did this former British Paratrooper become one of the most powerful men in Television.

A big part of Mark Burnett's success can be attributed to his special forces training. In so many instances, these men find themselves in situations where all seems lost, but they continue on regardless. This sort of mental toughness and discipline is essential to the entertainment industry, where things will go against you and you most certainly will feel at times like you are ready to give up.

Anyone who has spent time with Mark Burnett can vouch for his intensity and his habit of being an eternal optimist. He always feels there is another way and that a failure - no matter how big or small - is simply a stepping stone to success.

He is also an expert in the field of marketing. He knows that an idea is worthless unless it is marketed in the right manner and has worked diligently over the years on his own marketing skills. It is one thing to be a creative genius, but another to communicate the value of that idea to someone.

Here are 5 elements Mark Burnett considers crucial to his success.

Flexibility. There is a saying in the military "improvise, adapt, overcome," and it is an essential element for success. He understands the best quality any person can have is to be flexible. Things change and you need to handle that. In his words, "flexibility starts with paying attention to the people around you. In selling, the dumb salesperson has one way of presenting ... and only one way. He fails to understand there are different types of people and they all require a different kind of sales approach ... If you're a one-trick pony, you'll end up selling a lot less."

The most successful ideas are new ones. Everyone always remembers the original before the copy. There has to be some new element with any idea you come up with. Added to this is the way the idea is communicated. You must understand your market inside and out and exude contagious enthusiasm when talking about it. If you can't be enthusiastic about your own idea, how can you expect others to show interest?

Keep you and your ideas fresh in their minds. It can take as many as 7 exposures before anyone will buy from you. Burnett advises pitching in person where ever possible as it is so much more powerful than using the phone. Follow up with people diligently and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. This personal approach coupled with your enthusiasm and knowledge will make you stand out from all the others out there pitching ideas.

Persistence. There is going to be rejection. There are going to be people who don't like you or your idea. It happens. As Mark Burnett says, "my story is as much about failures, as it is about success. Successful people aren't going to close every sale, they aren't going to hear 'yes' every time they suggest an idea. When faced with failure, the successful person will persevere and try not to repeat the same mistake. You can almost always learn something from adversity." In many, many cases, the people who ultimately find success are the ones who refuse to give up. Ever.

Understand the value of having a strong team. Find yourself a core group of people who are dedicated to helping you succeed. Hand pick the best people you can find and reward them for their efforts. "I never go it alone. A leader is only as good as his team. Strong people surround themselves with other strong people and keep them there," he says.

Mark Burnett has achieved a great deal, but it is important to remember he had his share of failures between arriving in LA and signing his first deal. We can learn from his approach and pay close attention to the 5 elements he has cited as being instrumental to his success. I know the next Mark Burnett will.


Matt Canham, Writer, Producer. Reality TV Show Pitch
"Reality TV is a different kind of animal" - Donald Trump

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